Articles

Australia is in for a shock as war crimes investigation brings reality of war to the Anzac myth | Paul Daley

It’s time we think hard about the heavy burden of our fairytale on those we entrust to kill in the wars of our politicians

The long-awaited report into the alleged war crimes of Australian special forces soldiers will be out next week and will expose the gaping chasm between the myth of the exceptional, idealised Anzac troop and the dirty realities of war.

Focusing on the Anzac myth eclipses other national stories of pain and struggle | Paul Daley

There are plenty of monuments to war dead but few to doctors and nurses who died saving thousands during the Spanish flu

This pandemic Remembrance Day offers a unique opportunity to more honestly parse Australia’s war experience and how its storification has eclipsed other national narratives of immense pain and struggle.

Very few things about war are certain. But here’s a couple. Politicians wage it. Young (mostly) men fight it. And when things go wrong these soldiers pay the price – with their lives or future wellbeing.

Australia's spy agency has dismissed its official historian. But why? | Paul Daley

Terminating John Blaxland’s contract without any adequate public explanation is clearly not in the interests of transparency

A decision by Australia’s cyber spy agency, the Australian Signals Directorate, to change the author of its partially written official history raises questions about the organisation’s purported desire for greater transparency.

Australia has never been good at acknowledging its troops have been guilty of acts of inhumanity | Paul Daley

Australia’s telling of the Pacific war story is correctly replete with Japanese atrocities. But crimes against Japanese prisoners do not feature prominently

Seventy-five years after the end of the second world war in the Pacific, the human suffering of millions of combatants and civilians is easily overlooked in a binary focus on allied victory and Japanese surrender.

Australia's special forces problem: why the SAS is facing a crisis

An inquiry into allegations of war crimes committed by a small number of elite troops in Afghanistan is expected to report imminently. Can the regiments survive the fallout?

In the heart of the Australian War Memorial hang twin portraits of Ben Roberts-Smith, the most decorated soldier of his time and now its most controversial former special forces warrior.

In these pandemic times I conduct a daily privilege stocktake as I contemplate the months ahead | Paul Daley

Beauty is harder to find these days – sometimes it’s in places you mightn’t have noticed before

Beauty can be elusive these dark days.

Eyes widen with wariness above masks, multi-patterned and coloured flourishes that defy the pandemic’s gloom, as we widen our passage on the street and in the supermarket.

Related: From the wreck of the pandemic we can salvage and resurrect an inner life | Nyadol Nyuon

Indigenous economies have been hit by coronavirus, but online art sales offer a ray of hope | Paul Daley

Artists who may not themselves use or have regular access to the internet may be producing work that is only sold online right now

Quarantining remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities has protected many vulnerable First Nations people from Covid-19. But it has been to the necessary detriment of local economies.

The Australian book to read next: A Cartload of Clay by George Johnston | Paul Daley

My Brother Jack and Clean Straw for Nothing both won the Miles Franklin, but his third in the trilogy – which mirrors the author’s own life amid a changing Australia – is the most elegant and melancholic

I frequently reread the Australian novels of my youth – and few more so than George Johnston’s autobiographical “Meredith Trilogy” of My Brother Jack, Clean Straw for Nothing and A Cartload of Clay.

The room of the dead: how a museum became a halfway house for bones and spirits

Overwhelming on a human scale, the Indigenous remains held at the South Australian Museum speak to a terrible stain on Adelaide’s past. But justice is coming

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are warned that the following article contains descriptions of deceased Indigenous persons.

An unnerving echo cracks the silence as the key turns the tumblers inside the heavy lock – a brassy, rasping click, click – before the door opens on to a pitch-black temporary ossuary for thousands of lost and restless dead.

The Australian War Memorial's expansion money would be better spent on traumatised veterans | Paul Daley

The statistics about veterans with post-traumatic stress are disturbing. Helping them would be worth spending $500m on

Perhaps the most emotive justification for the planned $500m expansion of the Australian War Memorial came from the man behind the plan, the revered institution’s former director Brendan Nelson.

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